Throughout the month of December we’ll be posting lists of the best music of the year as determined by the volunteers that make CHIRP what it is. Today’s is from CHIRP’s Sound Doctor, Chris Siuty.
Dear Landlord – Dream Homes (No Idea)Amazon / Insound / iTunes
Made up of Midwest punk veterans from such bands as Rivethead and the Copyrights, Dear Landlord’s first release annihilates rest of my list. This is probably the best pop punk record to come out in the last ten years. Either they’re too good at it and aren’t pulling any punches, or this was a total fluke. This record should be on everyone’s shelf. Not even kidding. If they stay a band and not call it quits, as this appears to be a “side project,” they will be the most important pop punk band of the next ten years.
Canadian Rifle – Visibility Zero (Residue Records)Interpunk
Straight forward, blunt and unapologetic. Dark, yet catchy and melodic. Canadian Rifle cuts through all the B.S. and puts together a collection of some of the best songs to come out of Chicago. Gruff vocals reminiscent of Jawbreaker, on top of urgent melodic punk songs. If this was exclusively a Chicago list, this record would be tops. Ex-members of Ambition Mission, (Lone) Wolf and Cub and many many others.
Nothington – Roads, Bridges and Ruins (BYO Records)Amazon / iTunes
San Fransisco natives Nothington manage to combine the gruff vocals and song structure of Hot Water Music with the melodies and drunken wit of the Replacements, creating a sound that is more recognizably Gainsville or Minneapolis than the Bay Area. This record is one heart-string jerk after another. If you get a chance to see them live, it’s well worth your time.
No Slogan – Aversion Therapy (Residue Records)Residue
If anything, 2009 was the year of Residue Records. Three releases hit my top ten and I’m looking forward to future releases from Jordan Pedestrian and company. This release, coming in at number 4, is the most “Chicago” sounding release on my list. No Slogan are long time staples of the Chicago DIY punk scene and constant favorites of mine. They manage to channel classic Chicago bands such as the Bhopal Stiffs, the Effigies and Pegboy, while maintaining a sound that is far from derivative of any of these bands. This is easily the best thing this band has done. Looking forward to more quality releases.
Star Fucking Hipsters – Never Rest in Peace (Alternative Tentacles)Amazon / Insound / iTunes
Admittedly, I sometimes feel a little goofy liking the output Leftover Crack and their crew release, because there’s ska parts and their politics are so unbelievably black and white. But, aside from that, these NYC crusties really can write good, interesting songs. They combine a lot of different influences, from street punk to death metal, ska to 80’s hardcore. If you can put down your hang ups and listen to this album without judgement, you’ll find a lot of quality within the grooves of this record.
Banner Pilot – Collapser (Fat Wreck Chords)Amazon / Insound / iTunes
The only thing that can possibly make an adult who still listens to punk rock with the enthusiasm of a teenager feel more awkward than ska parts is admitting that Fat Wreck has put out something you like. Well, every year, there’s at least one album. Last year it was the Dillinger Four. This year, it’s D4’s fellow Minneapolis natives, Banner Pilot. The crazy thing is, there’s two Fat Wreck releases on the list this year. Banner Pilot are bound make anyone still lamenting the break up of Jawbreaker feel a little bit better about themselves. Emotionally tinged punk, driven by honest lyricism and engaging song structure echoes the passion and energy that draws people to punk rock. If you haven’t listened to a punk record since you stopped going to the Fireside in the mid 90’s, it’s probably time you revisit an old friend. This would probably be a good place to start.
Daylight Robbery – Red Light EP (Residue Records)Residue
This Chicago group take equal parts influence from early L.A. punk bands such as the Weirdos and X, as well as modern garage rock. Daylight Robbery have put out yet another fantastic 7” driven by female and male vocals exchanged in the urgent crust punk tradition layered over a west coast punk influence and a core rooted in midwestern lo-fi honesty.
MK Ultra – Discography (Youth Attack Records)Interpunk
Chicago by way of Dekalb veterans finally released a comprehensive discography. If you weren’t there, or you’d like to have all of your records in one handy place, this collection does all the foot work for you. Someone should do a commercial for this, in the style of those “Hits of the 70’s” collections. Brutal, socially conscious hardcore. It doesn’t get any better than this. This ends up towards the bottom of the list, only because it’s a collection. It doesn’t speak of the quality of the songs at all. Besides, this edges out a lot of records that came out this year that I really liked.
Teenage Bottlerocket – They Came From The Shadows (Fat Wreck Chords)Amazon / Insound / iTunes
Every time I think “this is probably the last Teenage Bottlerocket album I’ll ever buy, because I don’t think their next one will be as good,” I’m proven wrong. I know what you’re thinking: “how many bands that sound like a cross between the Ramones and Screeching Weasel can there possibly be and how can they be any good?” Well, I’d probably agree with you, but Bottlerocket continues to be the exception to the rule. They manage to continue to take a painfully derivative genre and reinvent it in interesting ways over and over again. If I were to pick a top ten fun albums of ’09, this would be number one.
The Ergs! – That’s It… Bye! (Don Giovanni Records)Interpunk
So the Ergs! called it quits in 2008, but released their final three songs in 2009. These are the final three songs they ever wrote, closing the book on the best pop punk band of the 2000’s. The Ergs! will be seen as this generation’s Screeching Weasel or Descendents and I can guarantee you that their influence will be seen in bands to come, no doubt. Just to make sure I say something about this record other than the facts, one of the best songs they ever wrote, “Anthem for a New Amanda” is on this record. Do yourselves a favor and check out their discography. You won’t be disappointed.